CHESHIRE -- Time of possession was limited for the Hoosac Valley football team on Saturday, especially in the first quarter.
St. Joseph's put together an opening drive that consisted of 17 plays, marched 80 yards and chewed 8 minutes, 41 seconds off of the game clock. It was the first of many long drives the Crusaders put together on their way to a 28-0 win.
The opening drive hurt the Hurricanes the most. Not only did they allow Jon Bianchi to find Zack Neary in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown on fourth down, the Hurricanes also lost starting center and defensive end Zach O'Neil for the rest of the game moments before the score.
After making a tackle he left the game with an injury and never returned.
"Zach is a huge loss for our team," linebacker Ian Hill said. "Intensity wise he's one of the most intense players I have ever played with. We had a chance to respond and we just didn't. It's obviously a big loss, but all we can do is keep playing."
In addition to being the team's center and playing on the defensive line, O'Neil serves as team captain.
"He's really important," Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot said. "He's our center and he's a main part of our offensive line. He brings an intensity to the game that we lacked after he left."
St. Joseph's never relinquished the momentum and rarely allowed Hoosac to have the ball. The Crusaders held a 31:38 to 12:22 time of possession advantage in the
"It was not so much our defense today," St. Joseph's coach Gary Bianchi said. "It was our offense all day. We kept the football and didn't give it to them."
Lavante Wiggins was the main force for the Crusaders on the ground. He carried the ball 24 times for a total of 165 yards and a touchdown. On 43 total carries, St. Joseph's accumulated 253 yards on the ground.
"After the Wahconah game when I was held to just 47 yards, everybody including Hoosac was saying after I get hit one or two maybe three times in the backfield that I'm done for the day," Wiggins said. "I came in to this game trying to prove that's not true. I'm here to play."
He got the ball five times on the first drive and grabbed 31 yards. His biggest run of the day was a 21-yard jaunt after being hit in the backfield by three Hurricanes. Wiggins scored his touchdown in the second quarter on a 2-yard dive play up the middle.
"I think they came out and they played like a much tougher team than us," Poirot said. "They came in and established that they were going to be able to run the dive on us the whole time, no matter what we did or how we lined up. They continued to play physical throughout the game."
The Crusaders had no problem converting fourth downs on the opening series. They were just one for four on third down conversions, but three for three on fourth down, including the opening touchdown.
"When you play defense you win the game on third and fourth downs," Hill said. "And they just made big plays on the third and fourth downs."
Hoosac managed just four plays in the first quarter and 12 total plays in the first half. While fourth down conversions helped the Crusaders, Hoosac wasn't nearly as lucky.
On two separate occasions in the first half, Hoosac converted on fourth down only to have the play voided by a penalty.